Ole Miss bounces back with big first inning

Ole Miss hosts Purdue of the Big 10 in a 3-game series this weekend. Gametimes are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and 12 noon Sunday.

Ole Miss got the losing taste of Tuesday night out of its mouth in a hurry Wednesday afternoon.

Bouncing back from an 8-7 loss to Northwestern State, the 16th-ranked Rebels scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning, including a grand slam by Mark Wright, and cruised to a 10-1 victory over the Demons.

"Last night was tough," Wright said. "We wanted to come out today and be more consistent all around. That's what we did, and it's definitely a better feeling right now than it was last night."

After starting LHP Matt Maloney gave up nothing in the top of the first, Cooper Osteen led off the bottom of the first with a single, and Chris Coghlan followed with a walk. Stephen Head came to the plate and stroked a double to right center, scoring both Osteen and Coghlan, and the rout was on.

After Brian Pettway walked and Jon-Jon Hancock struck out, Alex Presley got a base hit to load the bases. Up came Wright and the swing of the day - a shot over the left field fence, just shy of the bottom rows of the outfield terrace seats. It was 6-0 Rebels.

"I've been seeing the ball well all year," said Wright, who leads the team with a .450 batting average but has just the lone home run. "I'd been getting ragged a little bit (before the game by his teammates) about when I was going to get my first one. I really was just trying to put the ball in play. I was able to get one up on a fast ball, and it got out of the park."

Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco wants to see more of today and less of yesterday.

"I like the way we bounced back after a loss, and that's well and good," said Bianco, whose Rebels improved to 6-3 on the season with Purdue coming in this weekend for three games. "But let's not lose so many of these games. We have to be more consistent and play better. We have to continue to learn how to win. We are seeing some things we need to improve on, and that's important."

After Northwestern's Andre Vige got a lead-off solo home run in the top of the third, the Rebels answered with a run in the bottom of the third. The home team added two more in the fifth and one in the seventh.

Maloney is now 2-0 on the season and went five complete today.

"I felt really good out there again," said Maloney, who struck out seven but walked three with five hits and the lone earned run. "All four of my pitches were working today. I made a couple of mistakes, but all in all it was a good day for me."

It was a good day all around for the Rebels.

"This is the kind of day we needed today," said Brian Pettway, who was 2-for-4 on the day and closed the game on the mound in the top of the ninth, allowing no runs with a hit, a walk, and two strikeouts. "Yesterday was brutal for us. We came out today and scored runs. We didn't match them hit for hit and out for out yesterday. Today we wanted to get out front and stay ahead the rest of the game. And that's what we did."

In addition to Maloney, Chris Moffet went two innings allowing a walk and giving up a hit. Will Kline then went an inning with a strikeout before Pettway came on.

Osteen ended the day 2-for-3 with an RBI, Head was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI, and Presley 2-for-4.

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